Gas BBQ grill recommendations?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Colin Dunn, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    A severe thunderstorm, packing 80-MPH winds and grape-sized hail, damaged my gas grill (a 6-burner Brinkmann that cost about $500 five years ago). So now I am in the market for a new one.

    What I'm looking for: A full-featured, full-size propane gas grill. My originally planned budget was about $1,000. High-quality construction and breadth of features are the most important considerations for me.

    I popped over to bbq.about.com, and started reading their reviews. This was discouraging. I could sum up most of their reviews as follows: "The 'full-featured' stainless steel grills selling at the big-box stores are all junk. They're built with cheap, flimsy parts that will only last you a couple years before rusting out or falling apart." Even grills selling for between $800 and $1,200 fell in this category.

    So I've done some research on what are "good" gas grills and came up with the following options (in no particular order):

    1) Vermont Castings VCS5008: Can be had for about $1,300. It's a full-blown large gas grill, but made of "430" grade stainless steel (which some say is not of really good quality). But this grill is still made in the USA and has a reputation of being built to last.

    2) Weber Summit S-650/670: A 6-burner, full-featured, all high-grade (304) stainless steel grill. Gets an unequivocally good review, but rather pricey at $1,800-$2,000. Replacement parts, should I need them, are readily available but expensive.

    3) If I were to blow $2K on a grill, Sam's Club sells an "outdoor kitchen in a box" kit, the "3-in-1 Outdoor Modular Grill." This is a full-size gas grill, plus a sink, griddle, and refrigerator module. If I ever got a covered patio, it would be perfect ... but not much info is available on who makes this grill, or if the build / parts quality is any good.

    4) Sam's Club also sells a Member's Mark grill for $900 that even has an oven chamber. I don't really need an outdoor oven - but this grill also has a griddle section (which could be handy). Don't know who makes this grill for Sam's Club either.

    5) Lowe's sells Jenn-Air brand grills in the $500-$1,000 price range. These looked reasonably nice, but the reviews at bbq.about.com question their longevity. (Apparently, Lowe's licensed the Jenn-Air name, but these grills are actually sourced from China.)

    Anyone have other recommendations? I'm trying to stay away from Brinkmann (poor after-sales support / parts availability) and Charmglow (made by Brinkmann)? I'm not into brand-name snobbery, so the best grill for me may be an unheard-of brand that offers quality parts and full features, but doesn't break the $2K barrier.
     
  2. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    Found another option -

    There is a Napoleon Mirage line of gas grills. They have two models in my price range, a 90,500 BTU (845 sq. in.) or a 106,500 BTU (1,020 sq. in.) grill. They are $1,400 and $1,800 respectively.

    A lot of the "prestige" brands (KitchenAid, Viking, Dacor, Capital) are in the $4K-and-up price range for a similar feature set. I'm assuming something's better about their grills, but part of it is also paying for the brand name...
     
  3. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Weber. Either myself or my family has owned every grill known to man. Ducane, Vermont Castings, Char-Something, etc., etc. The last grill each of us bought? A Weber. Everything else fell apart. My mom's Weber has been going since '98 and since it's always been covered, it looks as good as the day it was bought. Throw the grates in your oven on a clean cycle once a year and you are good to go.
     
  4. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Colin:
    I have NO personal experience with them myself (because they are too rich for my blood)...but a fella I know who is in the propane business swears that Ducane Grills are the way to go. Since I trust the guy giving me the info I thought I'd pass it along.
    Myself...I just bought a $200 three burner (plus a side burner) Weber from Target a few weeks ago and am thrilled (so far!).
    Never thought of that. That makes a a lot of sense. it's a two-fer!
     
  5. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Not going to mention Ducane except that my experience was the direct opposite.
    I will say that the self-cleaning oven trick was yet another tip from the mind of one Alton Brown - Cooking God and All Around Kitchen Stud. [​IMG] Works so good, I use it on my regular stove burner liners. They come out looking like new. Same thing with my pizza stone.
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Boy that's smart. I always think about the energy that function uses for such a simple (yet admittedly difficult) task. I will now feel much better knowing I'm doing something else useful during that time. [​IMG]
     
  7. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    I've got a Cal-Flame rig which is OK....works as intended and good construction. The best stuff I've ever seen is made by Lynx....but it's pretty darn pricey....it will be my next purchase when I have the outdoor kitchen built.

    Mort
     
  8. Marc S Kessler

    Marc S Kessler Stunt Coordinator

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    Weber. And their after sale service is great.
     
  9. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Alton Brown - King of the multi-taskers.
     
  10. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Since you live in TX, try these guys: Barbeques Galore - Welcome to Barbeques Galore! They have two stores in Austin.
    They started decades ago importing BBQs from Australia, where wood is dear and smog laws demand gas BBQs. I got a "classic turbo" from them in 1990 and it's still going strong. They stock parts "forever".
    EDIT How crappy. They changed their website, dropping the user forum. They also appear to have finally (after 25 years) dropped the black-porcelanized "classic turbo" models.
     
  11. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    Just to toss it in - we have a Vermont Castings 4 burner with a side burner that we're very satisfied with. Mind that we're not big time grillers but we'll grill burgers, brats and steaks on it at least once a week.

    We had it converted to natural gas and have it plugged into the house.

    Will that self cleaning oven trick work on porcelain trays? I would imagine it would but thought I'd better ask before I find myself ordering a new set. What a great tip!
     
  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I like the tip of cleaning my grill grates in my oven [​IMG]
     
  13. LewB

    LewB Screenwriter

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    Grill grates are supposed to be cleaned ? [​IMG]
    At the start of the season, I fire up the sucker full blast for 30 mins to 'burn off' anything that might be in there (I guess that could be considered 'cleaning'). After that, I use a grill scraper before each grilling session.
    FWIW, I have a Vermont Castings 3 burner I got at Home Depot a couple of years ago. I am quite satisfied with it, as are my 2 friends who bought the same model.
     
  14. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    The first time I "cleaned" my pizza stone, it was because I forgot it was in the oven. [​IMG] I've since done it a couple more times on purpose and it's been fine so far. Probably one of those "just in case it happens, we aren't liable" warnings.
     
  15. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    My wife said she was told or read that cleaning it thusly burns off the seasoning. Good if you want to restart the seasoning process; bad if you don't.
     
  16. John Gido

    John Gido Second Unit

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    Great idea!
    Does anyone know if this method will damage porcelan coated cast iron grates?
     
  17. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    I don't know why that would happen, I usually season a cast iron pan by smearing on Crisco and putting it in the oven on high heat for a couple hours. I've never seen a difference in the cast grates I've done this to, so who knows?
     
  18. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    But there's a big difference between "high heat" and the excessive heat reached during a "self-clean" cycle.
     
  19. Ray Chuang

    Ray Chuang Screenwriter

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    By the way, I found a great way to clean a barbecue grill grate unit: high-pressure steam cleaner. I was able to completely clean up a gunked-up grate in only a few minutes, mostly because high-pressure steam will blast away grease quite easily. [​IMG] It works really well cleaning a charcoal grill, too.
     
  20. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    I finally decided and ordered a Weber Summit S-670. That hit the top end of my budget, but was the only of the five options that got unanimously good reviews.

    There were too many stories about other grills (even Vermont Castings and Ducane) rusting out after a few years. With the cheaper imported grills, parts availability can be a problem. At least with the Weber, if rust starts developing, parts and support should be readily available for years to come.
     

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